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"Situationist International" Tag


the ‘de Jong’ vision


Friday, October 28, 2016

With this article I will try to provide the reader a good insight into the Situationist Times that were published between 1st of May 1962 and the Fall 1967 during the Situationist movement [ x /y ].

First of all, about the woman behind these tremendously enriching compendia:

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Her name is Jacqueline de Jong, she is a dutch graphic designer, artist and sculptor, born in 1939 in Hengelo to Jewish parents.

She encountered Asger Jorn in 1959 in London, which will lead to a very significant liaison and finally to her entrance into the Situationist International.

1960, when she entered the movement she then started to participate in conferences at the Central Committee and was the representative of Holland – in the same year she received a postcard with the message :”Now all of Holland belongs to you.”[z]

This stamped her membership of the SI where she remained active until 1962, when in the same year the German and Scandinavian Situationists saw expulsion by Guy Debord due to a long-standing friction between the aesthetic and political aspects. Because of her solidarity with the German Situationist Gruppe SPUR, she was expelled/ resigned in Febuary 1962.

As the division between the Debord circle and the German and Scandinavian Situationists widened, De Jong stayed impartial.

Her vision was to produce an international, completely free and multicultural magazine based on the most creative Situationist ideas.

De Jong’s major inspiration stemmed from the late 1920s magazine  i10 International Revue published and edited by the anarchist Arthur Lehning between 1927-1929, it featured contributions from Schwitters, Moholy-Nagy, Bloch, Kandinsky and many others. The new approaches to typography and graphic design apart from the interest in radical political views were so compelling and intriguingly in synch with the aesthetic sensibilities of the avant-garde with which she traveled.

For her the idea of a magazine with content made up of an wide-array of artists and intellectuals beyond aesthetic and geographical constraints was appealing and aided her in attempts to find new ways of disseminating the Situationist ideology.

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“How it started was getting thrown out of the Situationist movement. I had already announced that I was going to make an English — multi-language, but English language sort of magazine in 1960 in Brussels. And it was because of the French — Internationale Situationniste — I said : let’s make an English one. […]

There was SPUR — as a German one, a French, I.S., but no English language magazine for the Internationale Situationniste. So that was my suggestion, and I had bought i10, I think, a year before. And it was the most interesting magazine, I mean also in typography, I’d ever seen. […]”

komitee-spur

 

The first two issues speak a very similar visual language, with drawings and articles. The first issue she started with the whole SPUR trial while they were on trial in Germany for blasphemy and pornography — she published the whole court process in this issue, including the so-called dirty pictures and blasphemic texts.

They would travel to places and protocol their results of applying Situationist tactics as détournement and dérive.

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The following issues are quite different, as De Jong found herself very captivated by the concept of topology, she would compile visual information and material in a very meticulous research on various subjects, with the highly diverse contributions in form of highly informative texts – also in different languages, or even various languages in one cohesive article.

The issue that started this whole idea of compiling visual material throughout time and culture was the third issue — the British Issue which she entirely by herself edited and published.

Apart from few highly interesting and profound texts by Anton Ehrenzweig, Max Bucaille and Georges Hay this issue mostly concentrated on the ‘Typologoy of Knots’.

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De Jong did not intend to make a series of issues with topological content, but what happened was that she solely recognized the topological pattern that was developing, but where she drew inspiration for the Issue #3 was from walking the Gotland labyrinths.

She described her experience:

I don’t really remember why I took the idea of labyrinths. It might have been because we went to the Gotland. We walked into the labyrinth there. And out. That’s the problem. Into a labyrinth is one thing, but getting out of it.. but there’s always a system to it. […]

Which led her to publishing this extraordinary content on labyrinths, she asked the people in her network, such as her former history professor Jaffé and Aldo van Eyck to write an article on this subject. Simultaneously Peter Schat and Lodewijk de Boer changed the name of their opera from ‘The Paradise Bird’ to ‘Labyrint’.

 

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Issue #5 provided an enormous amount of visual and verbal content on ‘Rings and Chains’, which was the logical development of sequences, and again people were asked to contribute to this specific subject.

But this was also the starting point of the publishing and distributions to take a critical turn. Jorn had to sell some of his paintings for the publishing to take place, there were problems with the printing office after which they relocated to Copenhagen for Issue #5.

This cohesive way of content focusing on a certain topological subject started turning into a maniacal hunt for De Jong, she initially wanted to do an issue on Wheels, but due to certain other coincidental situations she changed her course, this time inspired by Walasse Ting‘s One Cent Life she advanced to compiling a very visually different issue, which will finally lead to being the last one.

 

One Cent Life was a book featuring lithographs and screenprints contributed by artists such as Pierre Alechinsky, Karel Appel, Asger Jorn, Roy Liechtenstein, Allan Kaprow, Andy Warhol, and many more.
“Lots of things were happening, actually at the American Center. Happenings were starting. Yoko Ono came and we were all very much involved in movements that got more and more international. We did some things like parties and exhibitions, and I mean really working together, having enourmous shows together and I mean it became lively, it became really something important.

 

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JACQUELINE DE JONG : THE SITUATIONIST TIMES #6
FACSIMILE 1962-67, CURATED BY JOHAN KUGELBERG, PUBLISHED BY BOO-HOORAY NYC, 2012
Rietveld Library no: 700.2 jon 1

 I wanted to show this spirit in a printed way. [...] I wanted to do something cheap, but beautiful, and perfect. I said I could make a Parisian One Cent Life, and very cheap, if all the artists do the same colors, the same size, and it’s the size of the Situationist Times. [...]”

She went to a lithographer, and many artists were asked to work on this issue, come four times to the printer and make four colors. What also was part of her considerations was the fact that this issue was meant to cover the costs of the next issue, she didn’t want to depend on Jorn selling his paintings.

It was published finally, and it was unique. It was shown at La Hune, which was a bookshop for art and it peaked its distribution, unfortunately to very complicated and shady reasons the publishing of The Situationist Times was put to a halt by outside circumstances which I find very tragic in that sense.

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I feel like she could have gone on with this process of working with collaboraters and contributors from all different backgrounds specialized in a certain field and enriched society with this knowledge made accessible to the reader in such a visually magnificient way – if it wasn’t for those outside circumstances that she had little control of.

But then again I wonder if exactly the way things turned out created the emphasis of this compilation of knowledge and visual manifestation of that time’s zeitgeist, giving it more significance, but also compelling me to wonder about the what ifs, or what would an issue on a different topic that I personally find quite interesting have been like? Because I find it quite striking in her way of compiling especially the topological issues, she crossed borders and cultures and time, which really caught my interest, and I almost want to argue that it was accidental because in a way she possibly just wanted to provide the most accurate and rich information on a certain topic with contributions from other people she dragged into this quest.

In that sense, her ambitious hard work and struggles to give us this content and share it with the world and people like us from a different time and mental state is solely, and tremendously enriching, but highly questionable if these were aspects of her consideration. The way I perceived it she solely wanted to share something of the present in the present, but in such an eager and energetic way that I can feel the literal energy of De Jong when I flip through the pages of each issue, the dedication and meticulous arrangement.

I highly advise the reader to go to the library of our academy and let the visual language speak to you. I derived profound inspiration from it – the way of the arrangement and editing, visually as written, concomitant the content itself as well of course.

The International Situationist Times facsimilé edition at Rietveld Library cat.no. 700.2 jon 1

The Concept of Détournement


Monday, October 24, 2016

Détournement is a technique. Détournement is a style. Détournement is a tool.

  • To really understand the concept of this tool, first we have to get to know it’s origins.

When we speak about détournement, the first and the most important figure we have to mention is Guy Debord.

Debord was a Marxist theorist; writer and filmmaker who is mostly known for his activity and leading membership of the Situationist International ( SI ).

In 1950, at the age of 19, Debord joined an avant-garde movement called Letterism, led by Isidore Isou. After two years Debord splits off and creates a radical group, the Letterist International.

Shortly after this collective of rebel artists and theorists was founded ( 1952 ) , détournement was claimed by this certain group.

The very first publication ( and description ) we can find on their desires; announced by Guy Debord and Gil J Wolman in 1956, was the ‘ A User’s Guide to Détournement ’ .

After we did these very basic studies on the genesis of our subject, we can go deeper in search of the meaning and, so to say, the use of détournement.

  • Every movement, every new style claims current things and situations to change. They all have the same purpose: leave the old, the used behind and create, express something new. In our case Guy Debord’s movement was a very radical, even revolutionary way of changing the meaning of art, or better, the production of it. Debord and the situationists all agreed on the fact that art could no longer stay a chic, luxurious, high class production. Rather they believed and strived for art to have a deeper, educational input. They broke down the walls of the classical and the bourgeois way of looking at and creating art by taking different elements of already existing works and transforming them into something new, to express another meaning. These changes don’t necessarily have to be drastic or aggressive. The point of it is to change a small component but then with this small detour, changing the overall expression and audience. They mainly aimed political situations and circles, but only in a peaceful and respectful way.

A very important figure and example in this case would be Asger Jorn. Jorn was a really good friend of Debord, therefore he was highly inspired and led by the situationist concept, styles and ideas. In his paintings series called The ‘Defigurations’ , we can clearly explore the idea of détournement. His works are mainly driven by political issues and his frustration with established structures and authorities within society.

Another well known example is Marcel Duchamp’s L.H.O.O.Q. where he simply adds a moustache on Mona Lisa. With this small adjustment which first looks funny and sarcastic, Duchamp changes the whole meaning of the original Mona Lisa, that presents a laid back, carefree woman, but with this detour he presents the restlessness of the women’s sexuality.

  • At this point i find it more important to come up with more recent examples for détournement.

Let’s say you go to a restaurant, you get a piece of toast and a strawberry. Then you take a bite of this strawberry and you realise that it is actually a tomato. This is a concoction by the radical Star Chef Grant Achatz called ‘ strawberry / tomato ‘ . His cuisine is amazingly revolutionary as he transfers every simple ingredient into something more, something different. With this, he presents the meaning of modern cooking on a new level that is more of a performance or art than just making food for the guests. The food itself loses its meaning, it becomes the show, the whole experience. He takes a simple vegetable a normal herb or an ordinary ingredient but then the way he cuts, boils, combines them he creates tastes, techniques and culinary styles that we have never experienced before.

Another very important figure and illustration from our daily life is Banksy. We are not quite certain if Banksy is one person or a group of revolutionary artists, but the works we find and see under Banksy’s name are carrying the biggest recent political and social issues from these days.

In our case Banksy () could be one of the best examples how détournement works. In these works we can find well known images of current situations, famous moments and people, companies and figures. The way Banksy transforms these pieces, irrevocably opens our eyes on actual problems in our society, on existing and known political debates. The only small detour Banksy has, is that the way it’s propaganda exists might be more aggressive or intense by publishing them on public places, than the basics of détournement were created.

  • However, we face an important  and interesting question now. What if we detour détournement? How far can détournement go? How can or should we divide it from anarchy?

Or maybe peaceful propaganda is not enough at all these days anymore…?!

I assume it might not be. I believe that nowadays within such an aggressive society, political parties and their choices; we have to fight the “rival” with clear, harsh and rebel tools.

So answering our questions: it is almost a mandatory for us artists and philosophers and writers, comedians, journalists or simple working class people and for all medium that is capable of, to take the peaceful elements of détournement to a next,  advanced level. We do have to go further and show our dislike or disagreement, even if it has to cross laws and politeness, for the sake of change and recognition. We have to apply effective and more powerful tools to our ideas and requirements  for them to be realised.

THE SITUATIONIST DILEMMA


Sunday, October 23, 2016

 

Competitive notions in interpreting the concepts of situationism are creating a dilemma. This dilemma signifies friction between the concept and its use in daily life. 

 

Firstly I should say that situationism and the Situationist International had been created in a different world/time than the one I live in. The concept of freedom and play as stated in many of their ideas, resemble an assembly of philosophical and empiric references that are mine, but experienced in a different context. This leads to a reinterpretation of freedom and play connected to the world I live in now.

 

INDIVIDUAL VERSUS GROUP 

Situationist ideas about psychogeography (dérive) and unitary urbanism clarify the concept of living in situations, freedom and play vividly. People wander through different urban areas. Having their individual feelings lead them while being directly influenced by their surroundings. An idea of exploring and living in a landscape existing of unplanned surprises.

 

So far, this concept might sound clear, but a paradox can be found in many of their statements.

On the one hand a person should be strongly attached to his/her own feelings/emotions/senses (individualism), but on the other hand a capitalist/materialist individualism is condemned. This states an interesting way of thinking. Complex by all means.

The word of subject in the sentence above is ‘individualism’, but in my vision on the main situationist theory (a radical aversion for ideas and practices of the powers that were), are ‘individualism’ and ‘collectivism’ interchangeable. The notion of the individual and the group as being a unity and at the same time fragmenting this collectiveness, is such a tough contradiction. This makes situationist theories approachable in many ways, but inapproachable in even more.

 

The radical, anti-capitalist ideas of the situationists can be very effective in extreme, collective confrontation (i.e. revolts, revolutions, marches, strikes). Meanwhile, the individual in daily life, loses strength.

An individual that constructs situations, will be living in a different situation than another individual, although their situations could overlay and complicates such an (already) unclear starting point. A situation defined for yourself, might complicate the practice of freedom and play in a cohesive, social setting.

Freedom and play should be incorporated in situations and life in general, but these terms are uncertain in ongoing effect and consequence.

 

EXTERNAL VERSUS INTRINSIC 

The situationist notion of the spectacle (materialist/capitalist vision on life as a narrow-minded, superficial one) still divides and unites people in their daily patterns nowadays. Although the spectacle reshapes itself continuously towards more flexible definitions.

 

Primary, intrinsic and united similarities are what makes us homo sapiens. The by the situationists admired concept of the homo ludens unites us too. This adventurous person at play is inside all of us. Still few people are able to fully express this as described in a situationist’s observation.

External influences, as the spectacle, restrict us human beings to be limitless in freedom and play. But also, in my point of view, originates an important part from within people themselves. External information (cultural, traditional) is necessary to reinterpret in an individual context. Therefore freedom is needed. Next to these external factors, a variety of embedded instincts and needs (biological, genetic) are prematurely existing. To approach these in a constantly free and playful way is beautifully stated, but in my conception naive, since we are  being born in an already populated world where centuries of ever transforming, created structures aren’t all based on (solely) money and power.

 

UTOPIA VERSUS REALITY

These situationist ideas, created and admired by artists and other people with interest and knowledge in arts, literature, philosophy and/or politics, is not made for, nor to be understood by many others. Capitalists nor communists (and many more who fill this gap).

A situationist world is a utopia. The importance of the unstructured, emotional drifts, guiding every person individually, is un-realizable.

Influence through morals, religions and politics have always been a limitation for protesters. But structure can be found in all ideas  about life. Structure requires limits. Also, a construction of situations.

 

Read more :

The Concept of Détournement

the pleasure of the unknown

 

The ‘fun’ revolution


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Sunday Adventure Club wants to change cities by asking people to create their own environment. Because the environment should be a place where citizens can determine their own rules and explore their freedom, a playful environment, in which people revolt against the regulatory city. A dog-playground, a cooking workshop or a beauty farm, how promising is the initiative of the Sunday Adventure Club?

The SAC compare themselves with the Situationist. This movement started in 1957 and fueled the student demonstrations in Paris 1968. The situationists believe that every generation should rebel against the previous generation. As a consequence there will never be a ruling authority. The SAC though, doesn’t rebel against the ruling order in the city, they avoid the confrontation by choosing those places that are abandoned. Therefore we can hardly speak of a relevant comparison in this context.

Another difference between the situationists and the SAC is the use of media. Internet and GPS are used to create communities and find like-minded. These media are also used as toys, for instance to let the GPS track your steps and create figures in the city. This first of all only strains the feeling of freedom in my opinion, when anyone can track you anywhere. And second are these media now used to play instead of spreading a message.

An initiative funded by the city authorities can of course never rebel against them. The SAC therefore turns out as a real product of our time. Where everything has to be fun and people are satisfied with that, there is no real urge to change the dynamics of the urban environment. It’s enough to make a sunday in the city a little bit more ‘fun’.

introduction to Situationists with more interesting links and work of the Situationists International, for situastionists on YouTube see more in posting: (“disobeying for the sake of disobedience”))


posting Elke Baggen

Disobeying for the sake of disobedience


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Ji Lee (pleaseenjoy.com) is a Korean born New York based designer and initiator of urban interventions. He grew up in Sao Paolo and later moved to New York where he studied at Parsons school of Design. He is now working as creative director for Google, a freelance designer and a design teacher at Parsons school of design. Some of his most well known works are “the Univers Revolved”(universrevolved.com), “Abstractor”(abstractor.tv) and “the Bubble Project”. (thebubbleproject.com)

Ji lee´s contribution to Experimenta design is “the bubble project”(ABC World News). It is a project that he’s been working on since 2002. He initiated it in New York where he printed 50.000 talk-bubble stickers and placed out on top of commercial ads allover New York City, leaving it open for people of the city to fill in their own words. The project has continued to grow ever since.
The idea of the bubbles originally comes from the Situationists (Situationist International), a small assembly of artists and politicians active in the early 60´s. Their main intention was to create disobeying people. In 1968 they made bubbles and stacked them on commercials. They didn’t like the way big companies took advantage of creative people to sell their products so they turned it around and used these commercial images to support their own messages.

Ji Lee is questioning the way our cities are overrun with commercials and our limited possibility to express ourselves in the urban space. Many of the graffiti tags we see on the streets are also a reaction on this but most of the tags we see in the cities are also commercials for artists and crews and the conversations going on in the graffiti world are most of the time only readable for the initiated. By using the Situationists means and turning the commercials into public conversations he encourages all people to communicate their own thoughts without writing anything himself. He is basically giving the word to the people of the city.

posting by Chandra Sen


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